Looking Back at the First-Timers Part 2

By Golf Channel NewsroomNovember 6, 2002, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)First-time winners were more frequent than inclement weather this season on the PGA Tour. Eighteen players recorded their maiden tour victories, with three winning on multiple occasions. That number easily broke the old tour record of 14, set in 1991.
 
From Jerry Kelly winning the first full-field event to Luke Donald winning the last, here is a brief look at winners 10-18 this season.
 
Spike McRoy
 
McRoy reached his professional pinnacle by winning the B.C. Open, but plummeted soon after. He missed eight cuts in his last 11 starts. McRoy made $378,000 for his win in Endicott, N.Y., which made up more than half of his $616,814 yearly income. His 110th-place finish on the money list was the worst by a tour winner since Ed Dougherty ended 1995 in the 122nd position.
 

Craig Parry
 
The stout Australian followed in Kevin Sutherlands footsteps in making a World Golf Championships event his first tour victory. He snapped a 235-tournament winless streak by capturing the NEC Invitational. Parry, who at one time was the tours leading money earner without a win, made $1 million for his triumph at Sahalee. That accounted for nearly 70 percent of his 2002 winnings.
 

Chris Riley
 
As was the case when Sutherland won the Match Play and Ian Leggatt won in Tucson, a pair of first-timers won again in the same week. Riley prevailed in the Reno-Tahoe Open, which was played simultaneously to the NEC Invitational. Riley denied Jonathan Kaye his first tour title by winning in a playoff.
 
The 29-year-old continued his ascent up the money list. He was 112th in his rookie season of 1999; 71st in 2000; 45th in 2001; and 23rd this year.
 

John Rollins
 
Rollins shot 65 in the final round of the Bell Canadian Open, and then watched as Neal Lancaster double-bogeyed the final hole to force a playoff. Rollins rolled in a 20-footer for birdie on the first extra hole to defeat Lancaster and Justin Leonard. He earned $720,000 en route to finishing 25th on the money list. He made almost $170,000 in his rookie year of 2001, and a shade under $2 million in his sophomore season.
 

Charles Howell III
 
Shouldered with weighty expectations since turning professional in 2000, the lithe Howell finally got his first title at the Michelob Championship. It didnt take as long as it did for the likes of Parry, but Howell was much relieved after career start No. 56. The 23-year-old Augusta, Ga., native made over $2.7 million in 2002 to finish ninth in earnings.
 
Howell started the year with three top-10s in his first five starts, before struggling in the middle of the season. After his opening-round 70 at the Michelob, though, he concluded the campaign with 16 consecutive sub-70 rounds.
 

Phil Tataurangi
 
Tataurangi shot 10-under 62 in the final round to win the Invensys Classic at Las Vegas. He became the 15th first-time winner of the season, officially breaking the old tour record. Tataurangi, who has suffered all his life with a heart malady, made $900,000 for his victory, and vaulted into position to try and qualify for The Tour Championship. Instead, he decided to skip the remainder of the year, and finished 33rd on the money list.
 

Bob Burns
 
Burns held off Tiger Woods to win the Disney Golf Classic. The former Buy.Com Tour Player of the Year won his first PGA Tour event in his 173rd start. He made $630,000 to surpass the seasonal $1-million mark for the first time in his career.
 

Jonathan Byrd
 
The tour freshman played a five-hole stretch in 7-under-par on the back nine Sunday to win the Buick Challenge. Byrd shot 63 to keep David Toms out of the winners circle this year. He was the first rookie to win on the PGA Tour in 2002. He finished 39th on the money list, just ahead of fellow Rookie of the Year candidates Pat Perez (40) and Peter Lonard (41).
 

Luke Donald
 
Donald became the fifth consecutive first-timer to win on tour when the final round of the Southern Farm Bureau Classic was washed out. The 24-year-old Englishman was leading in Mississippi through three days when rain wiped out play Sunday and Monday. He joined Byrd as the only rookies to win on tour this season. Donald was 58th in earnings.
 
Look at winners 1-9.
Getty Images

McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

Getty Images

Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days engaging pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGCC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

Getty Images

Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

Getty Images

Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.